CHARLESTON -- Mike Romano recently was named president of the West Virginia Association for Justice.
A Clarksburg attorney, Romano will serve until June 2011. He said he is excited about his year at the helm.
"I can sum it up pretty easily," he said. "Lots of people say congratulations. I tell them to say that after the year is over and everything goes OK. It's a difficult position.
But, I am excited. I have been in the executive positions for about six years now. It's exciting to be the face of an organization that stands up for West Virginia working families and consumers.
"Our mission is to fight for the interests of West Virginia consumers and working families by making sure that everyone obeys the law. We ensure that the playing field is always level—even when taking on the richest and most powerful wrongdoers."
Romano said the WVAJ's work "must go beyond just what is best for the individual clients to doing what is best for West Virginia's civil justice system."
"That means being involved in the education of attorneys and citizens and informing our lawmakers and others policymakers about the purpose of the civil justice system and why it must be preserved for us and our children," he said. "The effort to reverse the misinformation and propaganda against the civil justice system will be central to my tenure as president of the association.
"I want our citizens to know what we do and why it is essential to their very safety and survival and benefits all individuals and good businesses."
Romano said one of his primary goals as president is to try to re-inform the public about the true meaning and purpose of the civil justice system.
"It's meant to compel people to obey the laws," he said. "If there is no penalty for breaking the laws, the people are not going to follow the law. They're going to do what earns them the greatest amount of profits. My goal is to make people understand that the civil justice system in West Virginia functions very well. We are the 37th lowest lawsuits per person in the country. It isn't a system out of control, but rather it's one that functions very well.
Romano said he does take issue with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Chamber and other groups that "tell the rest of the country that we're not a good place to do business." The West Virginia Record is owned by the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform.
He noted that per capita, West Virginia has about 800 civil lawsuits filed for every 100,000 residents. Neighboring Maryland, by comparison, has about 5,000 for every 100,000.
"All you can do is speak the truth," Romano said of way to combat the perception that West Virginia is a bad place to do business. "You must always speak factually. We also have to call entities on the carpet. Quit badmouthing West Virginia. You're not doing us any favors, you're keeping businesses out of here.
"People from my organization and the government need to tell people to stop."
Romano said he'd like to continue such a dialogue.
"I plan to reach out to organizations such as the state Chamber," he said. "When something needs to be fixed, we would get on board and help make corrections."
Romano received a B.S. in Accounting from West Virginia University and is a graduate of the WVU College of Law. He was named Member of the Year in 2005 for his outstanding service to the association and the profession. Romano worked as a certified public accountant with a big-six accounting firm and as an enforcement agent with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Romano is a solo practitioner who handles complex litigation in the fields of bodily injury, insurance disputes, malpractice, and other similar areas of the law. Romano is a Democratic nominee for the Harrison County Commission, and he is also president-elect of the Harrison County Bar Association. Romano is married to Amy Romano and has two children, Emma and Michael.
The other WVAJ officers for the 2010–2011 year are: Paul T. Farrell, Jr., president-elect – Huntington; Scott S. Blass, vice president – Wheeling; Bernie Layne, treasurer – Charleston; Anthony Majestro, secretary – Charleston; and Paige Flanigan, parliamentarian – Princeton.
The West Virginia Association for Justice represents more than 500 plaintiffs' attorneys throughout West Virginia and surrounding states.